Untitled (Collectivity and Selectivity)
Knowledge based and psychological exams, foldable box, video (6’ 19’’) Variable dimensions
In recent decades, the growing overintellectualization behind the work of artists, curators, critics and other artrelated agents, as well as the power games driving the art market, have gradually polarized audiences, limiting art access to a well- informed, affluent elite. Irizar takes this exclusivity to an extreme with an exercise that, paradoxically, enables public access to art through a democratic process. In order to do so, the artist launched a public call inviting anyone interested to participate in a series of tests both psychological and knowledge based in order to select four candidates who would then participate in a discussion at the gallery. The final activity involved not only the participants’ rhetorical skills, but also the physical strength neces- sary to hold the foldable hall containing the mysterious piece that just one of them had the opportunity to see, being chosen by the group of participants for that purpose.
What do you mean by “genuine interest in accessing a work of art”?
I think the universe containing the production, circulation, and consumption of art is plagued by innumerable, unnecessary conditions and tricks which remain, despite the fact that they don’t correspond to each of these activities’ main objectives, obscuring people’s access to and interest in art. For that reason, I think it’s interesting to conduct the exercise of severing these ornaments still embedded in the involuntary viewer of art, or in the viewer not yet defined as such, striving for a clearer understanding of the emotional, psychological, and knowledge based generators that fundamentally propel this individual toward consuming art.
Who is your ideal viewer?
I’m not sure if an ideal viewer exists. I don’t think the artist, strictly speaking, seeks out some kind of model communication as a conclusion to the phenomenon of art. In this project, though, I enable, as a question, an equation that engages an audience capable of active interaction with the work’s process, in such a way that the interest triggered in the viewers is in itself the work, prompting reflections on the emotional qualities linked to the their psyches without trying to measure their level of expectation. The resulting conclusions help me measure learning as an experience; I place myself right up to the limits, wherever the process leads me.
Enormous theoretical contributions have been made to this nearly phantasmagorical figure, one to which many artists have offered the starting points, development, and conclusions of their investigations. However, taking viewers excessively into account, in my opinion, unnecessarily discloses the piece’s secrets and creative conception but ignoring them also strikes me as a selfish, infertile act. That’s why I decided to develop a direct, meticulous exploration in which, through proven scientific methodologies, I could carry out a piece/study on the real human behavior of the person who comes into contact with this aesthetic concept.
Directly questioning and evaluating the people with whom the work itself will be in dialogue adds a degree of difficulty to the act of communication one that lets me discover, by a process of elimination, the level of commitment and willpower an individual requires in order to establish a dialogue with any artistic language, exposing complex forms of social conditioning that permit or prohibit the consummation of an integral communicative act. As far as I’m concerned, the results of this experience won’t conclusively find an answer to the question that can be applied in a widespread, definitive way, but they will help me get to know the ideal viewer for this work in particular.
Do you think your project operates within the field of sociology?
This project is implemented in a specific social group and makes use of alternative tools like psychology and history, pursuing the understanding of a universe or community through tests, samples, and data recording, just as sociology would do but in- corporating aesthetic, symbolic, and intangible factors directed toward a communicative, opinion-based func- tion, which sociology doesn’t address.
How would you define the differ- ence between sociology and art?
With this project as an example, the difference lies in the scientific rigor used to prove a hypothesis, which in this case is found to be riddled with subjectivities intrinsic to art. Also, art’s objective is to define the characteristics of a fictional character or conceptual figure like the viewer which distances it from sociology’s perfectly respectable investigative rigor and allows itself to be suffused with play, with individual and collective poetics.
Do you think there is a relationship between artistic effectiveness and the number of people reached by a work of art?
I think that, in essence, a work of art isn’t created based on or with reference to its own effectiveness or failure ahead of time, as other activities would do, like advertising. So, there’s no reason for the number of people reached or the popularity achieved to be reflected in a work’s level of excellence or proactivity. I think of effectiveness as something more closely resembling productivity or success, whereas building an alternative form of knowledge generally operates under other currents of time and social impact; it’s more like the gradual construction of collective awareness, and that phenomenon can begin with a single person.
Collectivity and Selectivity
Interview with Fritzia Irizar by Yoshua Okón